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Full text of "A history of Persia"

CH.LXXH   LAST YEARS OF NADIR SHAH        361
Furious at being baffled, Nadir fought on desperately;
but supplies failed and he was forced to retreat on
Derbent, where his shattered army would have starved
but for supplies shipped from Astrakhan. As Hanway
points out, it was this bitter experience which proved to
Nadir Shah the value of a fleet.
The Russian Government, alarmed by these operations,
despatched a force, which encouraged the Lesghians to
petition for Russian protection.1 The Shah, realizing
that he had failed and that this failure would raise up a
host of enemies whom his supposed invincibility had
hitherto kept in check, retired in a sullen and angry
mood.
The Blinding of Riza Kuli Mirza.—Nadir had
marched from the scene of the Meshed festivities to the
province of Shirwan by Astrabad and Mazanderan, and
while traversing the forests of this province he was
assailed by two Afghans. The bullet which one of these
men fired grazed his right arm, wounded his hand, and
struck his horse in the head. The assassins escaped in
the thick brakes. Nadir was led to believe, whether
rightly or wrongly, that Riza Kuli Mirza was the insti-
gator of the plot. The young Prince was questioned and
promised pardon if he confessed, but he asserted his
innocence, and upon the close of the Lesghian campaign
he was blinded. The character of the Prince closely
resembled that of his father ; hearing on one occasion
a rumour that Nadir had lost his life in India, he had put
Shah Tahmasp to death and had begun to assume the
state of a monarch. He was harshly treated by Nadir
on his return and cherished deep resentment, and it is at
any rate possible that he was guilty. On the other hand,
Nadir was exasperated by his failure against the Lesghians
and would not hesitate to condemn on mere suspicion.
He afterwards undoubtedly regretted his act, and it is
stated that he put to death all the spectators of the blind-
ing, on the pretext that they should have offered their
1 Hanway, iv. p. 226, gives a translation of the petition, which contains the following
passage: " We are determined to hold the golden border of the Empress's imperial
robes, and in spite of all the evils that may threaten us, we will not be dragged from
them. . . /'